ODESSA, Texas (Big 2/FOX 24) – The youngest of the victims was a 17-month old girl at the time. Her parents are now using her story as a way to help others.
“I would not have wanted to live through that tragedy in any other community, because this was a community that supported us from the second it happened,” said Kelby Davis, daughter injured in the mass shooting.
A year later, the memories of that painful and tragic day still fresh for Kelby Davis.
“This is a community that pulled over and stopped their cars and ran into the sound of gunshots to help us,” said Kelby Davis.
The Odessa mother takes us back. It was a typical Saturday for the Davis family. They were headed over to a friend’s house. Dad, Garret, was driving. Mom, Kelby, in the passenger’s seat. The twins, Anderson and Rhett, who were just 17 months old at the time, were riding in rear-facing car seats.
They planned to stop at Market Street on their way and hit a stoplight at 42nd street and JBS Parkway in Odessa when suddenly the day took an unexpected and horrible turn.
“I remember just kind of ducking my head once I heard the shots. Kelby immediately jumped back to check the kids, and that’s when she saw that Anderson was bleeding,” said Garret Davis, daughter injured in the mass shooting.
“She was just covered from her head to her lap; she was covered in blood. I just started screaming, she’s been shot, Anderson’s been shot,” said Kelby Davis.
“I was just kind of numb to it. I was so confused,” said Garret Davis.
The Davis family say they never saw the gunman, but turns out, he shot a bullet through the back of their vehicle.
“The shrapnel hit my daughter Anderson in the chest and mouth. When it hit her in the mouth, it just lodged her in the chest wall. But when it went through her mouth, it went through her bottom lip, knocked out her teeth and burned through her tongue,” said Kelby Davis.
Their nightmare continued, young Anderson in pain, crying for help. Her parents felt helpless. They tried calling 911 more than a dozen times.
“Due to the panic of the city, we were never able to get through to 911,” said Kelby Davis.
But in their panic, a moment that can only be described as fate. Brad Reese and Kellen Foreman, with Odessa Fire Rescue, just so happened to be at a nearby restaurant.
“These two men, truly angels that I truly believe God sent,” said Kelby Davis.
“God works in mysterious ways,” said Garret Davis.
“Where a lot of people, and I don’t blame them, I might have been one of those people, stayed in the restaurant that day when they heard gunshots, Brad and Kellen chose to run towards the gunshots when they didn’t have too, they weren’t on duty,” said Kelby Davis.
Then, another hero enters the picture, Odessa Fire Rescue Captain Jason Cotton. He stopped an ambulance who had another mass shooting victim, so little Anderson could be transported to the hospital as well.
“He just kept screaming, help the baby, help the baby. The baby needs you more than I do, the baby needs you more than I do,” said Kelby Davis.
Kelby doesn’t know that victim’s name, just that he wanted her baby to have priority despite his severe injuries.
These parents have a long list of heroes. Heroes they say they can’t thank enough.
“I want people to remember the good all of our first responders and police did that day,” said Garret.
This family attributes their faith for helping them move forward and Kelby also talked about forgiveness.
“That shooter was once a baby, that shooter was once a little boy. I laid there in that hospital room, and I held my little girl that night, and I prayed my children to grow up to know God and to love God and just to be good humans,” said Kelby Davis. “That is the number one thing. I pray my children, grow up and be a good human. At some point along that way, that didn’t happen for that little boy. He grew up to do a very evil thing that took people’s lives and devastated families and just took so many people. But anger, hate. No, my hearts broken for him, my hearts broken for his family.”
While it’s still difficult to discuss, the Davis family stresses they have so much to be thankful for right now. Anderson is now two years old, and there’s her twin brother, Rhet, who was riding next to her during this horrible ordeal.
Their parents believe they were too young to remember what happened.
“I’m just so proud of her because she’s been a trooper through all the surgeries and everything she’s gone through,” said Garret Davis.
“I think you should use those feelings to spread awareness and to help spread kindness and help use your story to help others,” said Kelby Davis.
We also had a chance to catch up with all three firefighters in little Anderson’s story. The ones they call “heroes.”
“We all have a job to do. We love what we do. We don’t think we’re heroes. We just have a job to do and take care of people best we can,” said Jason Cotton, Odessa Fire Rescue.
“We went out to help people just like everybody in that area did. There were a lot of heroes that day, all over Odessa and Midland. I think we were just one of many that did what we could to help who we could,” said Brad Reese, Odessa Fire Rescue.
“To me, there was nothing about being a hero that day. It was just doing what we’re trained to do,” said Kellen Foreman, Odessa Fire Rescue.